Sometimes I wish some of these priests would really get into the Year of Mercy and show us a little by retiring already! Why is it that priests in my diocese, careening toward retirement, try to be as obnoxious as they can be on their way out the door? Now, Fr. Gerard Moran actually hasn’t been one of more obnoxious players in the Oakland diocese, and I’ve never had much of a problem with him other than people finding him a bit unapproachable, but since he decided to go there, here I go.
Before I start, I would like to tell the dear priests of my diocese: when someone forwards me a nice public statement from you that’s seditious (McGrath isn’t the only one who can use that term), I will respond! Please don’t feign shock that somebody was horrified by your actions. You can’t claim you didn’t know. Fr. Richard Mangini learned that little lesson last year (https://onemadmomblog.wordpress.com/2015/05/06/deep-thoughts-from-fr-richard/).
Here’s the lovely little screed Fr. Moran decided to put in his bulletin today. I’m hoping the good parishioners of St. Isidore’s will drop our bishop a line with their disgust.
A SAD DAY IN THE HISTORY OF THE WESTERN UNITED STATES!
On October 24, we received the sad news that the Sulpician Fathers would be withdrawing from St. Patrick’s Seminary and University, Menlo Park. In 1884, Archbishop Alemany recruited Sulpician priests to found a seminary to train priests for his vast archdiocese.
Please note, the Sulpicians were not thrown out. They withdrew, as Fr. Moran correctly said, and from what I understand, it was the mothership that called the remaining Sulpicians at St. Patrick’s home, not their boots on the ground requesting to leave. By all accounts, the Sulpicians working there now are very faithful priests, so thank you to them!
The Sulpicians were founded in 1641 by Fr. Olier in the parish of St. Sulpice in Paris. He founded a seminary there to create a worthy secular priesthood. The newly ordained priests were sent to all parts of France, setting a new tone and model for diocesan priests.
And then somewhere along the way they went off the rails and started creating guys like Fr. Moran who don’t understand that the Church isn’t their private playground to do what they will. They apparently were great at forming priests with a disdain and lack of respect for our hierarchical Church. They started creating priests who would take their archbishop or bishop to task for taking his job seriously, as if it that is some sort of personality disorder. It’s called being responsible.
St. Patrick’s Seminary was entrusted to the care of the priests of the Society of St. Sulpice by the archbishops of San Francisco since its founding. The seminary, under the direction of the Sulpicians, was incorporated in 1891; the first high school students were accepted into the Department of Classics in 1898; the Philosophy Department was added in 1902 and the Department of Theology in 1904.
St. Patrick’s Seminary has a truly special place in the hearts of the more than 2,000 priests and almost 40 bishops, including Bishop John S. Cummins, who have received their priestly formation from the Sulpician Fathers. Priests formed by the Sulpicians have touched the lives of countless individuals and families since 1898.
Sadly, until recently, St. Patrick’s has practically been a swear word for those of us who have had to live with the priests ordained there in the 60s and 70s and beyond. If Bishop Cummins is supposed to be the poster child of what the Sulpicians produce, that would speak volumes as to why this is a grand opportunity for Archbishop Cordileone.
Those of us who were educated in Menlo Park treasure the very personal aspect of our relations with the Sulpicians; from our spiritual direction to our common prayer and to the lecture hall. Their life was a hidden life, a life of prayer, study, a life spent with their students, with an unqualified commitment to serving us and giving us the example of sacerdotal virtues.
Wow! How awesome would it be if you were taught to treasure your relationship with your former bishop? I realize it’s probably really hard on those who were used to the Bishop Cummins “do whatever you like” attitude and his overdose of “collegiality” when it came to his priests, but the faithful are REALLY happy to have a bishop and archbishop who are willing to sacrifice their personal happiness and put up with you to protect the faithful and form holy priests.
The Sulpicians were faced with the awesome task in the 1960’s of bridging a path between an older Theological view and the newer perspective being forged by the Second Vatican Council. A high priority was to introduce a course on ecumenism. Archbishop McGucken sanctioned a series of lectures by the noted authority at Stanford University, Robert McAfee Brown.
Unfortunately, they forgot to point out that we are not Protestants. They might have wanted to form the priests in Catholicism before bringing in the Protestant guy to show you how to rebel.
The Sulpician, Fr. Ray Brown, published for seminarians a one-volume commentary on the Bible, which followed the directives of Pope Pius XII’s encyclical and taught us the historical-critical method of interpreting Scripture. We seminarians saw Fr. Brown as a dedicated priest, who faithfully celebrated Mass each day and used the liturgical celebration to expound the written Word of God. Fr. Brown, the author of 40 books, was appointed by Pope John Paul II to the Pontifical Biblical Commission.
Oh, my gosh, Father! Really? Fr. Ray Brown??? Oh, please! Let’s just take a little look at him, shall we? Pope St. John Paul II himself smacked down Brown’s silly notions: https://www.catholicculture.org/culture/library/view.cfm?recnum=525
Most Alumni or my generation have happy memories of Sulpician Father Frank Norris, who was a progressive thinker and supporter of the new developments of Vatican II having worked as a translator for non-Catholic observers during the final session of the Council. In spite of his constant demand as a speaker, he published a well-received book on the church, God’s Own People.
Hey, didn’t Yves Congar write the preface for that one? That’s a whole other story, though. Sigh!
The Sulpicians gave us a vision of Church which was wide and inclusive, not narrow and blinkered. Sadly, the Sulpicians have been on a collision course with Archbishop Cordileone since his appointment to San Francisco. He fired the rector, Fr. James McKearney, in mid-term 2013 and appointed Bishop Daly, without consultation, as intern rector. During my three years working with Salvatore Cordileone as Bishop of Oakland, I discovered characterological patterns in his behavior, including obsessive compulsive micromanagement. It is my hope and prayer that the three former Archbishops of San Francisco, John Quinn, Cardinal Levada and George Niederauer, will use their influence in Rome to see the Sulpician decision is not irrevocable.
Give me a break, Fr. Moran! And now their order numbers somewhere around 300 (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Society_of_Priests_of_Saint_Sulpice), as opposed to an order like the Dominicans, which numbers around 6,000, but, hey, it was all Archbishop Cordileone’s fault. He’s obviously been plotting since he was a small child to overthrow the Sulpicians once he became the guy in charge of the seminary. Groaaaannnn! Sorry. It would seem that the Sulpicians are their own worst enemy, and they likely called their good guys home to rebuild their order before it fades into oblivion. It was a smart move.
By all means, yes, let’s bring out Archbishop Quinn. You know, the guy who just advocated for the ordination of women? My goodness, how about we just let the elderly live in peace?
I’m not really sure why you think Cardinal Levada or Archbishop Niederauer would go to bat for you, since they weren’t treated with any more respect than Archbishop Cordileone. They were also the recipients of the liberals’ blindsides and questioning of their authority. I’m reasonably sure they don’t want to have anything more to do with the likes of you and your ilk who pine for the “freer” Bishop Cummins days of answering to nobody but your “internal whatever.” It’s so sad you can’t see the difference between a good bishop and someone who is obsessive compulsive. You’re so pompous, the idea of you having to follow the authority of anyone else can’t even be fathomed. How dare a bishop lead his priests! The nerve! Yeah, the Sulpicians did a banner job with you.
Fr. Moran, you owe the Archbishop, your own Bishop and your congregation one big apology for your misguided missive. Heck, I think you even owe the Sulpicians an apology for being such a poor example of their formation. Did you just stop to think for one second that it might have been wildly inappropriate? At this point, you’ve given us a great glimpse of the products of Sulpicians of the past and why their decision to withdraw might have been great for us. Maybe now we can look forward to priests who don’t undermine their bishops. What a concept!
Here’s to many years of the formation of faithful priests and may Archbishop Cordileone find the perfect order to do the job!
If you’d like to express your feeling to Fr. Moran: email@example.com